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Technology in the Classroom: Using QR Codes

Janelle Cox

Many schools are using QR codes as part of their technology in the classroom as a way to enhance their students’ learning. What teachers love about this technology in the classroom tool is that it’s making learning a lot more fun for students. You may have seen QR codes before -- companies use these tiny, scrambled-looking, black-and-white boxes as marketing tools. Essentially, these little boxes act as a shortcut to a web link when you scan them with your smartphone. QR codes (which stands for quick response) can be a great learning tool when used in the classroom. Here we’ll take a quick look at what they’re all about, as well as how they can enhance student learning.

What are Technology in the Classroom QR Codes all about?

Quick response codes are similar to a bar code in the sense that they provide information to the user. When you scan a QR code, it’ll direct you to a webpage, video or file. Teachers like to use them because they’re easier than having students type in a whole web address. This is especially true for the younger students who tend to mistype. A QR code will take the student directly to where the teacher wants them to go without having to type a thing.

How Can QR Codes Enhance Learning?

QR codes can enhance learning by engaging students. They teach kids to think differently.  A great example of this comes from a school in Iowa. One classroom was given the choice to write about a book they’ve just read for a project. They could either do a book report on paper, or talk about their book on a tape recorder then link their project with a QR code for their classmates to listen to. One school gave their students a digital makeover by offering them a book talk, versus writing a traditional old book report. By giving students choices, they’re able to have a creative voice, which is a great way to enhance student learning.

How Can You Use QR Codes in the Classroom?

Quick Response Codes can have a place in the classroom, and there are many ways that you can use them. Here are a few teachers’ favorite ways to use them in the classroom.

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As a Read-Aloud

One of the many uses for QR codes in the classroom is as a read-aloud. All you have to do is create a link to a book (YouTube is great for this), and the student uses her device to scan the code to listen to the book. To make it even easier on yourself, try laminating each QR code so students can use it time and time again. One teacher even went as far as creating a read-aloud bulletin board, where she wrote the title of each book followed by the QR code. This way, all students had to do is look at the bulletin board to see which book they wanted to listen to, then scan the code to hear it on their device.

To Simplify Research

Another clever way to use QR codes in your classroom is to help simplify research. If there are certain websites, videos, articles, or podcasts that you think will help your students in their research, then all you have to do is create a QR code for them.

For a Gallery Walk

Many teachers find that gallery walks are a great way for students to learn. They can be used to share students’ work, or for students to learn about specific concepts. QR codes are a great addition for gallery walks because they allow the student to learn more about what they’re seeing. If you’re using them to share students’ work, all you have to do is have a student’s record an audio description of what they’re sharing. Or, if you’re using them for students to learn more about a concept, then you can link to more detailed information about what the students are learning about.

To Support Struggling Readers

QR codes can also help to support struggling readers. Many students who struggle with reading like to read along with someone because it’s just easier for them to follow someone instead of reading it themselves. Try making audio recordings of the material that you want read, or link to someone else reading the material.

As an Answer Key

As you know, grading students’ work takes time. QR codes can help to free up some of that time by linking to an answer key where students can check their own work. The goal to making this work (so students don’t cheat) is creating a code for students to check after they’ve already solved a problem.

For a Book Review

Long gone are the days of book reports. With today’s technology, teachers can create a whole new take on the old book report. All you have to do is have each student record what they think of the book after they’ve read it, then create a QR code to their book review and tape the code to the back of the book. This way students in the class that are interested in reading the book can listen to their classmate’s opinion and decide if the book is right for them.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can use Quick Response codes in the classroom. Teachers also use them for scavenger hunts, to cite sources, to inform parents, to link handouts, to check student work, and to even award prizes. Once you’ve found the content that you want to link creating QR Codes are easy. All you have to do is go to a site like QRstuff, paste in the URL, and the site will provide your code, it’s that easy. 

Do you use QR Codes as part of your technology in the classroom? If so, what are your favorite ways to use them? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com